Don’t go the way of the dodo: Making the case for anditive innovation

By Warren Tomlin

The dodo. It’s synonymous with extinction, obsolescence and, at times, even foolishness. It’s certainly not a good example of innovation. Where do these connotations come from?

The dodo was a bird that started out with no competition. It stood tall — three feet, to be exact — on a small island in the Indian Ocean without a fear of predators. As a result, it incrementally evolved to lose its need and ability to fly. In less than 100 years, as humans and new species were introduced to its once isolated home, the dodo became extinct, declining as the world around it outpaced its ability to adapt.

Lessons from the dodo

The plight of the dodo is a lesson that can be applied to innovation. Adding (or, in the dodo’s case, removing) an insular, siloed new feature, product or technology to your company’s offerings is not innovation. Adding calcium to orange juice may appear to be healthier — and sure, it sells — but is it really innovative?

Put this in the context of technology today. Adding a machine-learning component to your research and development department is modern and exciting, but will it transform the experience of all your employees? What about your customers? The answer in these situations is a resounding “no.”

1 + 1 = orange

This is where the concept of “anditive” comes in. Unlike additive creations, anditive indicates two elements that can come together to create something entirely new, different and enduring. 1 + 1 = 2; that’s additive. 1 + 1 = orange; that’s anditive.

This is the driving force behind true innovation, which, in turn, is the driving force behind digital reinvention. A few things are important to keep in mind when talking about anditive innovation. The first is that you must steer clear of the either/or mindset. Should you work on introducing a new technology or focus on your core product? Should you target millennials or legacy buyers? It’s this line of thinking that limits your creativity and distracts from the end goal.

Second, more isn’t always better. You can adopt as many new emerging technologies as you’d like, but if they aren’t thoughtfully and purposefully integrated into your long-term business strategy, they’re slated for failure.

Last, digital reinvention is only successful when you start and end with the user experience in mind, be it for your customers or employees. Consider that experience to be your North Star, and let it light your reinvention strategy every step of the way.

How to drive anditive innovation

So, how do you put this into action? The following four steps are key to moving from incremental innovation (additive) to transformative innovation (anditive):

  1. Learn a new language. Ensuring your business leaders understand the language of technology, and vice versa, is not only essential to success, but it sparks new ways of thinking that would have otherwise been left untapped.
  2. Follow the leader. There needs to be a champion inside your organization advocating for digital disruption. Having such an ally will help your company strike the right balance between risk and innovation.
  3. Start a fire. Coalesce your small-scale emerging technology wins into a sustainable, fully baked digital reinvention strategy — a bonfire, so to speak. In the end, this will create a movement your whole company can, and will want to, stand behind.
  4. Map your course. Yes, it’s an exciting time to modernize, innovate and transform. Yet being grounded in the fundamentals, such as planning, is still, well, fundamental.

Whether you’re a bright-eyed startup or an established corporation, anditive innovation will drive your digital reinvention forward and transform the world as you know it. To get started, simply look to your North Star, don’t be afraid to start fires and don’t be a dodo.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.